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Canes Fall at Duke

Canes Fall at Duke

By David Villavicencio

DURHAM, N.C. – Another rain soaked matchup between the Miami Hurricanes and Duke Blue Devils ended in a win for the Blue Devils, as they closed out the regular season with a 27-17 victory over the Canes.
A year after the two ACC Coastal foes battled under a torrential downpour inside Hard Rock Stadium, the two sides played under a steady deluge before 15,913 inside Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday. While both sides had to deal with the adverse conditions, Duke sacked Miami’s quarterbacks nine times and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to earn the victory.
“I am proud that our attitude and our effort was what it was tonight,” head coach Manny Diaz said. “I’m proud of the leadership and the fact that guys gave their all after all the negativity a week ago. Sometimes it just comes down to ball. You’ve just got to play football better than the other guys play football. For that to portray us tonight, I think it shows signs that there are some things in the locker room where the guys do want to come together and they do want to do right. We just have to play football better than we did tonight.”
The Blue Devils (5-7, 3-5 ACC) got on the scoreboard with 3:06 left in the first quarter, completing an eight-play scoring drive with a 40-yard field goal by Reed that gave Duke a 3-0 advantage.
The Canes (6-6, 4-4 ACC) got spark from an unlikely source, as punter Lou Hedley burst for a 21-yard gain on a fake punt to give Miami a fresh set of downs on the Duke 40. A pass interference penalty on Duke’s Josh Blackwell helped move the Canes into the red zone and Cam’Ron Harris ran into the end zone from eight yards out on the very next snap to give Miami a 7-3 lead with 14:52 left in the opening half.
But the lead would not last long, as Duke got a 37-yard kickoff return Damond Philyaw-Johnson that got an additional 15-yard boost after Te’Cory Couch was called for a horsecollar tackle. Seven plays later, Duke quarterback Quentin Harris rushed for a 24-yard touchdown that put the Blue Devils back in front, 10-7.
Duke added three more points on its next possession, with a 42-yard run by Mataeo Durant carrying the Blue Devils into Miami territory before Reed hit a 36-yard field goal to give Duke a six-point lead with 7:14 remaining in the second quarter.
The Hurricanes answered back in a big way, as Will Mallory caught a 32-yard gain on third and 11 from the Miami 42 to keep a drive alive and Robert Burns scored his first career touchdown on a 15-yard reception from quarterback Jarren Williams that vaulted the Canes ahead of Duke, 14-13, with 2:21 left in the half.
“I’m thankful to God for the opportunity,” Burns said. “It felt good to contribute. It just sucks that it wasn’t enough tonight.”
Early in the first quarter, redshirt freshman defensive end Gregory Rousseau picked up his 13th sack of the season, dropping Harris for a one-yard loss at the Miami 40. The sack gave Rousseau sole possession of fourth place on Miami’s single season sack list, breaking a tie with Kenard Lang, Daniel Stubbs and Derrick Ham. Rousseau finished the game with nine tackles and two sacks, running his season sack tally to 14.
Rousseau’s sack was one of two by the Canes on Duke’s second drive, as Jonathan Garvin also got to Harris for a four-yard loss. The two sacks helped Miami hold the Blue Devils back after initially opening the possession on the UM 40 and the drive ended with zero points for Duke, as AJ Reed missed a 46-yard field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless.
“Even through tough times, even when we are upset we have to stay together,” Garvin said. “That’s more important than anything because you can be mad you can want to fight but it’s just important to be together so we can grow as a defense just like a family does. Throughout the tough times you just have to stick together regardless of what happens.”
After a sloppy opening half filled with a constant downpour that caused both teams to struggle at times, K.J. Osborn’s 43-yard punt return midway through the third quarter gave Miami excellent starting field position at the Duke 14. The Blue Devils’ defense held the Hurricanes to a 27-yard field goal, but the kick increased the Canes’ lead to four points, 17-13.
The Canes forced their first turnover since Nov. 9 vs. Louisville, as Garvin sacked Harris and forced a fumble that was recovered by Nesta Silvera to give Miami the ball at the Duke 40. Garvin finished tied with linebacker Michael Pinckney with a team-high 10 tackles and had two sacks, but Miami could not capitalize on the turnover and was forced to punt the ball back to the Blue Devils.
“I believe in the culture,” Garvin said. “I believe in the standard that we set. I believe what Coach has been telling us especially concerning the culture and the standard that we’ve set. I believe that if we come back and we continue to follow this culture that we’ll be turning upward again because we’ve seen before sometimes you go up and down but it will be on the upward soon.”
A resilient Duke squad regained the lead with 9:37 left in the game, as Deon Jackson rushed into the end zone from two yards out to cap a six-play, 40-yard scoring drive and put the Blue Devils back ahead, 20-17.
The Hurricanes turned to redshirt sophomore N’Kosi Perry at quarterback to start their next possession, but the drive ended in the 10th Miami punt of the game.
Duke carried the momentum from the three-and-out into its next possession, scoring on a 49-yard pass from Harris to Jalon Calhoun that gave the Blue Devils their largest lead of the night, 27-17.
“Until the last long pass for a touchdown, most of their damage was done on two half-court drives, which is really the second year in a row where Duke has been able to make some plays in terms of winning field position,” Diaz said. “I thought our defense was in control of the game until the fourth quarter and part of it was just them getting worn down physically and mentally by the circumstances in the game.”
Chasing 10 points with 6:55 remaining in the game, Perry led Miami into Duke territory. But Chris Rumph and Shaka Heyward combined for a sack that gave Rumph 3.5 sacks on the night and helped put Miami in a fourth-and-18 from the Duke 43 that the Canes could not convert, turning the ball over to the Blue Devils on downs with 4:32 left to play.
“Obviously we’re upset with the outcome, but I don’t think the atmosphere has changed,” Mallory said. “I think everyone is still confident in the team that we have and the individuals and the coaches and everything. It’s just a matter of getting back together and figuring it out and fixing the little things. I think everyone has one hundred percent confidence and trust in what we’re doing and I firmly believe that too.”
Miami’s next drive ended in a fumble by Perry, as the quarterback was sacked by Trevon McSwain and linebacker Koby Quansah recovered the loose ball to give Duke possession at the Miami 26 with 2:17 remaining in the game.
Following the fumble, the Blue Devils ran down the clock and closed out their fifth and final win of the season. 
“Being around everyone every single day, I see what everyone can do,” Mallory said. “I see the potential in everyone and I know the playmakers we have on our team. We’ve just got to get it all together and when we do it’s going to be something really special.”